The Ahhh Factor

Every once in a while we run across an absolute gem—something completely unexpected that makes us breathe a collective, “Ahhhh!”

In early June we encountered such a gem: a lovely bed and breakfast in Ronchamp, called La Maison D’hôtes du Parc.

By now we are pretty capable travelers, having stayed in a range of places. Sure there’s been an occasional dive—some place, somewhere in the middle of nowhere with only a hope to sleep through the night. But generally, we find places that are worth a return visit. And some, warrant and guarantee many happy returns.

La Maison was one of those places. We found by happenstance. On the internet. Usually we like reading the reviews on Trip Advisor, but we know that those reviews can be slanted. We also read reviews on By cross-referencing the two sites, we’ve found unique and interesting places. La Maison was both. On one of the sites we noticed a detail of a radiator in a photo. An interesting choice. Arty. It caught our attention.

our cozy attic room

The small hotel is run by Emmanuel, a pleasant French man with an unbelievable eye for detail. We were led to our attic room, where we discovered a completely coordinated space. The towels matched the wallpaper, which matched the carpet, which matched the bedding, which matched the love seat . . . you get the idea. The house/hotel we guessed to be around 1870s. The décor from that period was mixed with elements of sleek modern. Wow! What a comfortable place to settle in.

lucky doggie!

We noticed a little fur ball scurry into a room adjoining the entry down stairs. Emmanuel was quick to scold the little dog, reminding him that he was absolutely NOT allowed in public areas of the hotel. He then scooped up the sweet little doggie and hugged him. Then, we all talked our way into his own delightful private living room with hand woven rugs scattered about next to the beautiful grand piano. We tried to convince him to play something, but he felt unprepared for our request, so graciously declined.

living room vignette

The place was both intimate and engaging. The living room was furnished with beautiful antiques, paintings, silver pieces and much more, all arranged with an artistic flair. You couldn’t resist just settling into the cushy sofa for some tea and cookies. Why not? When we told Emanuell that we were there to revisit the chapel, he motioned for us to follow him to a corner of the dining room. There, through an old window, past the tree and the babbling stream was a perfectly framed view of Le Corbusier’s famous chapel perched high upon the hill beyond. Of course, that had to be just one of the reasons why Emmanuel had fallen in love with the place, deciding to make it a B&B and share the wealth. We’re glad he did.

chapel from the window

We only stayed one night in Ronchamp. Just long enough to revisit the chapel, which was predictably wonderful. Magical. More than expected. There was a fancy new guest center to welcome visitors tucked into the hillside, just down in front of  the church. But even more welcoming than our sweet chapel was Emmanuel at La Maison d’hôtes du Parc. His hotel was really something special. It was one of those experiences that creates a lasting memory. You know when it’s happening and you just “go with it.” You just let the experience possess you—take over. As we said in the beginning, “Ahhh!”

the winning detail!

Everything about the place was perfect . . . and when you get right down to it—the radiators made all the difference!

Note: You may also enjoy our other pieces about Ronchamp—Music – “Two Pilgrims,” and “Retraced Steps,” and the story “Enough Already.”


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